The school was founded by Ms. Phyllis Powers M.B.E. Ms. Powers came from Great Britain and she settled in Havana in the early 1950s as a governess and teacher of English. Ms. Powers opened the doors of the Hillside School – as it stood on a hill – in 1965, to just 10 students. The Hillside School was a very small place – just a small house in fact, that was located on Calle 39 between 44 and 46 in Playa.
In 1974 a group of about 10 Embassies and other foreign entities, including the United Nations, formed a representative committee and reached an agreement with government authorities to recognise the school, under the name of the “Foreign Students School”, to provide education to the children of the expatriate diplomatic community who were temporarily residing in Cuba. The school had become a little larger by 1974 and so was moved to a new location made up of two houses on Calle 70 and Avenida 7A in Miramar. Ms. Powers remained as the Principal until her retirement in 1982 after 17 years of service.
The school continued to grow and in 1988 moved to new premises, our current Main Campus, between Calle 16 and Calle 18 on 5ta Avenida in Miramar. At this time as well the school changed its name once again to the current one of “International School of Havana”. As the school continued to enrol more students over the years, and more space was needed, several buildings were added to the premises, and further renovation and expansion has been going on until today.
In 2002 the school first became accredited by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Our academic curriculum began to evolve as well. We introduced the IGCSE for Grades 9 and 10, our own Pre-IGCSE programme for Grades 6, 7 and 8 and the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) in Lower School. The ISH Diploma for pre-university students was started in 2003 and the IB Diploma was established in 2005 with our first external examinations in 2007. Another significant change was the opening of the Early Years campus in August 2011.
With the opening of the Calle 22 campus in 2018, we welcomed the Early Years students back to the Calle 18 campus and the new multi-age Pre-Kinder Programme was started.
The school Ms. Powers started in 1965 was like a tree. It grew and grew and grew. It blossomed and passed from a young sapling into a strong tree of mature and beautiful stature. For this reason every Founder’s Day (October 25) we plant a new tree to remind us not only of our roots but also of how much more growth and development there is ahead of us.